Wakame is a sea vegetable with a rich green color, it is the long and stringy kind of seaweed. It is widely used in Asian cuisine to create salads and it is a must addition to their staple, miso soup.
Wakame, unlike its counterpart nori, can be used fresh as well. Nori is dried to help roll it in sushi while wakame is added to dishes fresh as well as dried. The traditional method of preserving wakame is with sea salt; even the dried version is partially wet to the touch.
Records have verified the use of wakame in the Japanese cuisine about 3,000 years ago. The pots and pans discovered in an archeological search revealed the residue of wakame sticking to the bottom of the crockery.
Fun fact: Around the 1700’s, wakame was deemed as a mode of tax payment alongside Arame and Nori. It was served primarily at imperial court gatherings and the rest was sold in markets.
The idea as to why wakame was used as something to pay tax to the royal families of Japan was because of how utterly nutrient dense the plant was. Cultivation and harvesting methods were not common in those days and most sources of nutrition and energy were from wildflowers, seeds, and seaweed.
Greeks and Romans also used seaweed in a variety of their medicinal concoctions and were aware of the nutrient rich nature of wakame. This knowledge has been carried down in history today and here is a list of reasons why we thing wakame should be a part of your diet.
11 Amazing Health Benefits Of Wakame
1. Treating Anemia
There is a misconception that plants are relatively weak sources of iron and copper. Wakame is a sea vegetable that provides a solid 0.028 mg of copper and 0.28 mg of iron per just 10 grams of serving. This makes the plant exceptionally good for people who are suffering from iron deficiencies, where conventional medicine has come a long way in the treatment of this deficiency; taking iron injections can be painful and not suitable for everyone. Wakame is an acquired taste, but can be added to soups salads and as a pickled side dish to increase your copper and iron intake. This helps negate diseases such as anemia and is sure to keep your energy levels up.
2. Weight Loss
Wakame is rich in nutrients and low in calories, it can act as an excellent base for soups to add the signature broth flavor without the added cholesterol and sodium of meat-based broths. People looking to reduce a few inches the healthy way can benefit from the low caloric nature of wakame while still enjoying a hearty meal. Adding this to salads will bulk up the density and keep you fuller for longer with the additional benefits of fiber.
3. Healthy Digestion
Wakame is a healthy source of fiber, which is essential to maintain digestive function. Fiber enables the body to defecate regularly and prevents diseases such as diarrhea. Not only this, but the immunity boosting tendencies of wakame helps keep the gastrointestinal tract free of diseases. The regular bowel movement ensures the body is able to absorb nutrients efficiently and break down the fats and complex carbohydrates in food easily.
4. Reduces Bloating
Wakame is low in sodium and has diuretic properties, and targets excess water retention in the body. This water retention is the main cause of bloating and eating wakame regularly, and can be beneficial for keeping bloating at bay.
5. Prevents Breast Cancer
Wakame is excellent for women as it not only fights iron deficiency, but also prevents the occurrence of breast cancer. The lignans, vitamin C, and selenium are powerful antioxidants, which targets cancerous cells and also inhibit the growth of tumors and lumps in the breasts. They are known to protect the cells from suffering any oxidative damage and it also elimiantes free radical cells.
6. Healthy Cognitive Function
It is nutrient dense; the vitamins, minerals and good fats not only promote healthy bodily functions, but also are quite effective in maintaining brain health. Studies suggest that individuals with a regular intake of wakame have a higher rate of alertness and healthy brain activity than those who do not consume it. People who eat wakame are able to maintain a healthy memory and brain function well into old age without being affected by memory loss.
It has shown signs of being anti-inflammatory and can also reduce heartburn. Most health conditions are a result of inflammation in the body and wakame helps calm inflammations on the skin, in joints and is also used to treat fever. This helps in preventing osteoporosis, arthritis and joint pain.
8. Hypertension Treatment
Hypertension not only affects the mind, but will gradually destroy your heart. It can cause heart failure and lead to the symptoms associated with stroke. It is closely linked with high blood pressure in the body and can have severe effects on the body if not taken care of. Diet is one way to add isothiocyanates to your blood and control high blood pressure and other diseases that can cause diabetes. Seaweed is naturally salty and can be eaten without the artificial addition of salt to food thus leading to a healthy amount of blood pressure.
Aging is a natural process and cannot be stopped completely; however slowing it down significantly is possible. Wakame is an excellent source of antioxidants especially vitamin C, which is an ingredient that the body utilizes to create collagen, which keeps the skin healthy and elastic and reduces the effects of free radicals.
10. Thyroid Treatment
Thyroid conditions can get worse due to deficiency of iodine and can help balance the thyroid hormone TSH.
11. B Vitamins
Unlike many land vegetables, Wakame is a rich source of vitamin B6 and B12, which is hard to come by in vegetables. The folate in wakame promotes the absorption of iron in the body and prevents other abnormalities. This is beneficial for women who are expecting as folate prevents neural birth defects in children and keeps the red blood cell count up. B vitamins are also great mood elevators and boost energy levels as well.
In a Nutshell
Wakame is a source of various vitamins and minerals which has been a part of the human diet for centuries. There are many benefits to its consumption and will promote health when eaten regularly. It is far more nutrient dense than any land vegetable and other types of seaweed.